Looking Inward and Upward for Grace

Written by Laura Anderson, WLLC 2015-2016

“The construction of God is just a crutch.” I have had a lot of people tell me some variation of this sentence in response to my faith in Jesus. It’s a common argument, especially from atheists and philosophers that view all religion as a social construct. And you know what? They’re right; God is a crutch.

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But have you ever thought about how desperately this world needs a crutch? There are millions of children around the world dying of diseases; innocent people are brutally murdered every day; one decision to drop a nuclear bomb could end our entire existence. The other day I watched a horrifying documentary about children being sold off a child brides and unknowingly entering a lifetime of abuse and neglect. These are just a few of the terrors that can make anyone a little queasy.

Of course, we have put immense effort into sending vaccinations to impoverished countries, imposing justice systems to keep people safe from harm, and keeping the peace between nations to avoid a nuclear war. All these efforts are amazing, and can do so much good in the world, but they simply are not enough. As Gordon MacDonald pointed out in Yancey’s book, no matter how much effort and money we put into these causes, “there is one thing the world simply cannot do. It cannot offer grace.” We need a crutch, a Savior, a grace-giving God, to make all these horrible injustices eventually vanish.

But on a personal level, we need grace even more, which is why we need a God that knows and loves us personally. Have you ever felt like there was something you did that just couldn’t be forgiven, it was too big? Or maybe it was a series of little things; a bad habit that was negatively affecting your life? I definitely have; and in those moments, I constantly beat myself up with negative self-talk, telling myself that I’m not worthy of grace.

That’s why I altered the bracelet practice to include not only complaints, but negative self-talk. And you know what I eventually realized? I cannot offer myself grace, not on my own at least. I needed to remember that God gives me grace, no matter what I do, no mater how many times I say I’ll change and don’t. He is standing by my side with open arms each time, waiting for me to realize my mistakes again and come running back to Him.

This bracelet practice helped remind me that “God’s flow is constant. Our experience of it changes with our consciousness” (Butterworth 2). He never leaves our side; we can just close our eyes to His presence sometimes. Mindfulness practices like these, though, help us to look into ourselves; and in doing so, often open our eyes to see God inside ourselves and all around us. So yes, God is a crutch; but He is a magnificent crutch that can turn every one of our limp efforts into a beautiful dance.

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